Trigger Warning: Suicidal Ideation (minimal but mentioned)
I used to have a book with a name something-like, “Addicted to Therapy”. It was in the 1990s and I remember thinking, “So true, Book, so true!” I had already seen more than a handful of therapists – to be honest, most of them stunk – and at the time none of them had come close to figuring out what was wrong with me.
I left the book in California when I moved to Canada. Oddly, I’ve thought of it many times. I thought of it when I picked up Instant Analysis by David J.l Lieberman, Ph.D. at a thrift store. After all, the banner across the top of the book reads, “Don’t spend years on the couch!” Yeah, I’ve done that. True, Book, true!
When buying books at a thrift store, there are usually three reasons it will be on the shelf. One, someone passed away and their collection ended up there – or at least some of it. Two, it’s a “pay it forward” kinda thing and was read and sent onward to enlighten someone else. Or three, it stunk – on ice. This is, I figured, was among the latter.
I will simply open the book and tell you what I see. (Insert appropriate instrumental book openin’ music here.)
Okay, we’ve landed on Chapter 24, “Why do I enjoy being angry?”
Ah yes, a simple problem that can be solved in three pages,, which is the average length of a chapter in this book (by my calculations – many chapters have only two pages and I didn’t find one with four, so… math. You know!). And not three jam-packed, tiny font pages. No, this is an easy-breezy kind of book!
All chapters begin with a problem and end with a solution. In this case, we have Anger, which is summed up tidily in 2.5 pages.
Look, I could type out the entire chapter in about 3 minutes but I don’t want to. Suffice it to say that anger can “Mask other feelings” or “Excite you” or “Make you feel powerful” and therefore:
- Examine if it’s masking other feelings
- Find excitement in other ways
- Experiment with different expressions of power
See? Easy peasy!
Never mind that anger has been the catalyst for everything from depression to murder and pretty-much everything in between. Entire books have been written on the subject.
I have struggled with it mightily through the years.
Now, Lieberman does elaborate – of course! – and judging by the cover, this wasn’t meant to be a treatise on the subject of analysis… however… c’mon. It’s NO substitute!
I went through each chapter in search of light and airy. I came across 19, “Why do I think about committing suicide even though I have no intention of doing it?”
While yes, the “No intention of doing it” does add a wrinkle… and his last paragraph of the three-page chapter says “if you’re still unclear on the toll suicide takes on families” to call your local suicide prevention hotline or mental health counselor… the prior three bullet points are… well, you be the judge:
- Focus on living, not dying
- My thought: Okay, I’ll just give that a try
- Turn “death” fantasies around and use them creatively
- My thought: You mean like video games and violent art?
- Realize how stupid death fantasies are
- My thought: You say stupid, eh?
See, I get what he’s trying to do. I really do! He’s distilling serious subjects down into easy-to-swallow info for the every(wo)man. He’s giving palatable, pithy bullet points that anyone can do.
Is there anything wrong with this?
When I picked it up, I thought this book would be less serious. Like, oh, I don’t know, maybe why I prefer green jello over red or something like that. (Yes, I know, I’m a nature and sugar lover. It all makes perfect sense!)
And there are less serious subjects woven throughout with some interesting – fun? – ideas.
Among the Praises in the front of the book, we have this offering:
“[Psychologies] traditionally make a pretty good living [with these issues] by having us come to [their] offices. Now I can pick up this book and… I can solve any problem in probably a couple of minutes. – “4pm News, ” KUSA, NBC TV/Denver
And that, my friends, is what this book is attempting to do. Channel KUSA says so.
So, my final word on this book and others like it: Buyer Beware.
At the bottom of every page (of this blog) are emergency numbers for crisis and suicidal ideation. If you need to talk to someone – DO IT, please!
If you have problems with anger, there are plenty of fine books on the subject (several talked about already on this blog) <<— link is live, check it out.